(Click to enlarge photo of Srila Prabhupada)
Mike Robinson: Can you tell me what you believe to be the meaning of life, why do we exist in the first place?
Prabhupāda: Meaning of life means to enjoy, but we are in a different platform of life. Therefore we are suffering instead of enjoying. But if you come to the real platform, then you enjoy. Because here we see struggle for existence. Everyone is struggling, but what is the aim? For enjoyment of life. Therefore life means enjoyment. But at the present moment our life is not enjoyment.
Mike Robinson: At the present moment, our life is not...?
Prabhupāda: Our life is not enjoyment—suffering.
Mike Robinson: Suffering, hmm.
Prabhupāda: Yes, do you admit or not?
Mike Robinson: You are saying at the present moment we are all suffering?
Mike Robinson: Yes, I would agree with that.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Then the question should be that "I want to enjoy. Why I am suffering?" Then you will have to mold your real life. Then you'll enjoy. And that is spiritual knowledge.
Mike Robinson: I see. Can you explain to me, then, perhaps finally, just some of the stages you go through in this spiritual life. Sort of, from somebody being a new devotee to Hare Kṛṣṇa, what are the mental or the spiritual stages you go through?
Prabhupāda: Spiritual stages... As they follow the principles, they realize that "Yes, I am advancing." Otherwise, why they should stick? They are also educated, they are young men, and they are coming from respectable family. They are not dull-headed dogs. So why they are sticking to this principle unless they feel, "Yes, I am making progress"? Just like you are hungry, and if you are given some foodstuff, you eat the.... With every morsel of food you feel, "Yes, my hunger is satisfied. I am feeling strength. I must go on till I am fully satisfied." It is like that. It doesn't require certificate from others. He'll feel himself, "Yes."
Mike Robinson: Yes, what I'm asking you, say, maybe if you could explain to me how you personally..., the different feelings...
Prabhupāda: We simply suggest that you follow this method and you'll advance. And if anyone follows, he advances, that's all. Our... I am teacher, my business is to give them direction. So if they follow the direction, their business is successful.
Mike Robinson: Yes, but perhaps you could explain to me the different feelings that you've gone through in your life. Is that possible?
Prabhupāda: Everyone—why I, you?—everyone. So long one is in ignorance, there are different feelings. When one is in knowledge, that is permanent feeling. Suppose a man was in ignorance, he was committing a theft, and he suffered. And now when he has come to knowledge, that "This business is not good," he does not any more steal and does not suffer. That's all.
Mike Robinson: But there must be different stages that you go through. Is that not correct?
Prabhupāda: Yes, yes, different stages.
Mike Robinson: Can you tell me from your own experience some of these different stages you've been through.
Prabhupāda: Yes, first stage is that you are inquisitively trying to understand. This is the first stage. This is called śraddha, that you have got some faith, "What is this movement? Let me study." This is the beginning. Then, if you are serious, then those who are cultivating this knowledge, you mix with them, try to understand how they are feeling. Then you'll feel, "Why not become one of them?" Then when you become one of them, then all your misgivings go away. And then you become more faithful and you..., then you get a taste. Why these boys are not going to see the cinema? They can go—other boys are going. They never ask me. Neither they would like to see even. They hate. Their taste is different. Why they do not eat meat, go to the restaurant? Their taste has changed. In this way you make progress. Firm faith, taste is changed; then God-realization, then love of Godhead, the perfection. That is wanted, love of Godhead. That is first-class religion. Not that ritualistic ceremony, "I believe," "This belief." That is not religion; that is cheating. Really when you develop your love for God, that is perfection of religion.
Mike Robinson: Perhaps finally, then, I could ask you, do you ever have any doubts?
Prabhupāda: If I have doubts, how I am preaching? That means I am cheating. And how I am writing so many books? Do you think a man with doubt can produce, in doubtful condition, he can produce so many books? (devotees quietly laughing) Do you think like that?
Mike Robinson: Well, I don't know. I just...
Prabhupāda: Well, you should know. (laughter)
Mike Robinson: So you never doubt any of this, anything at all?
Prabhupāda: We are sure.
Mike Robinson: That you have found the truth.
Prabhupāda: Utsāhān dhairyāt niścayād. (aside:) Find out this verse.
utsāhān niścayād dhairyāt
saṅga-tyagāt sato vṛtteḥ
ṣaḍbhir bhaktiḥ prasidhyati
"There are six principles favorable to the execution of pure devotional service: (1) being enthusiastic, (2) endeavoring with confidence, (3) being patient, (4) acting according to regulative principles [such as śravanaṁ kīrtanam viṣṇoḥ smaranam [SB 7.5.23]—hearing, chanting and remembering Kṛṣṇa], (5) abandoning the association of nondevotees, and (6) following in the footsteps of the previous acaryas. These six principles undoubtedly assure the complete success of pure devotional service."
Prabhupāda: Yes. Everything is there.
Mike Robinson: And you are sure this is the truth.
Mike Robinson: Thank you very much for talking to me. It's been a pleasure talking to you.
Prabhupāda: Hare Kṛṣṇa. Give him prasādam.
(Srila Prabhupada Radio Interview with Mike Robinson from the London Broadcasting Company, London, July 27, 1976)